Dear Cru Readers,
Often we’ve been hearing the same situation. It goes something like this:
Person 1: “Oh how often do you go to church?”
Person 2: “I go every Sunday–when I go home.”
College is full of first experiences and finding your first church is part of that. For the four years you’re in college, Bloomington is your home and you need the right type of fulfillment to survive.
Going to church regularly is integral in your daily walk with God. Church allows you to develop relationships, grow spiritually and build community with others and God. While Cru’s weekly meetings are great, these three church aspects can’t be found through interactive games, 4 to 5 worship songs and a 20 minute message.
If you’re in need of church here in Bloomington, here is our own personal glossary of churches to attend in here. Find out if it’s right for you, find out who goes there and find that experience that you deserve to get a taste of.
“My first Sunday here, the day before classes started Freshman year, I walked downtown to a church that I had Googled over the summer, a church branched from the church that I had grown up in my whole life: Calvary Chapel Bloomington. I figured that I would just sit in the back quietly, enjoy the service and then come back another week. The church ended up being very small, about 50 people, with an additional Sunday school classroom. There was no way I could go unnoticed. Everything was unusual. We did prayer requests out loud as a congregation, the head pastor is plays the bass in the band and his family sings and plays the piano and drums, and we take a 10 minute break between announcements and the message. I also happened to be there on the last Sunday of August, which fell on their monthly potluck luncheon. Putting aside the initial strange-ness, I have never felt so at home at any church before. The pastor and his family offered to pick me up at my dorm every Sunday to take me to church, I was welcomed into each family’s heart, I’ve interviewed several people there for homework assignments in the past and I even attended the Star Wars marathon complete with Star Wars Trivia Pursuit (twice now!). Calvary Chapel Bloomington reminds me of home, it reminds me of my family. They sing classic worship songs that mom and I would sing together while doing the dishes growing up. I feel like I am able to get the full “college experience.” Cru allows me to have community and worship with people my own age and church allows me to receive the family environment that I only get when I go home three times a year. I think it’s important to get all that you can out of college. It’s only get something you get to experience once and it’s an experience that you’ll hold with you forever.” – Camille Sarabia firstname.lastname@example.org/ (714) 319-7571
“When I came to IU as a freshman last year, I immediately started seeking out fellowship groups to try to find a solid, Christ-centered community where I could grow. After finding Cru, a few friends brought me to different churches and I liked different things about all of them, but then I found ECC. I loved the worship music, and Pastor Bob Whitaker was such a great speaker. Everyone there was so welcoming and seemed to be seeking after the Lord with their entire heart. I definitely felt like I could learn so much from them and from the message delivered there. And they have Connexion, a college student service on Sunday afternoons at 6, which I found so much fellowship in. I loved the fact that there were so many students but it’s also so encouraging to see so many families and kids striving to know Christ as well. I still fall in love with ECC every week.” –Bonnie Mailey
“I didn’t really prioritize going to church in the fall of my freshman year because I didn’t know any of the churches in Bloomington. On one Sunday night, I went over to my small group leader’s house to watch Peyton Manning duel it out against Tom Brady in a classic Colts – Patriots match-up. I was shocked when around 6pm many of the upperclassmen left to go to “Connexion” at ECC. They said it was a college student church service and invited me to come, but I wanted to watch the game and stayed behind. I came the next week though. I don’t remember any part of Bob Whitaker’s message other than the series and sermon title: The 10 Commandments – Honor Your Father and Mother. All I can recall is that I was cut to the heart and sobbing like sailor in Noah’s Ark Water Park. I kept coming back to Connexion, and then I started going to a morning service too. Four years later, I’m the one who now invites freshmen to come with me to ECC. I’m so thankful God has blessed me with this church!” – Andy McNeely
“The reason why I started going to Evangelical Community Church (ECC) was because that is where many my friends went, and I soon found out why it was so popular. The ECC family made me feel so comfortable from the minute I walked in. I was greeted by friendly people and yummy snacks (I’m a sucker for good snacks). Not only that, the band played the perfect balance of new worship songs and traditional hymns with a contemporary spin. But the part that stuck out to me the most was the sermon preached by the wise Pastor Bob Whitaker. He has the gift of taking seemingly ordinary parts of the Bible and turning them into meaningful applications to everyday life. I love my church family, and attending ECC regularly has enriched my time at IU!” – Hannah Robertson
“My freshman year I lived in Wright Quad with my roommate Alicia Hudelson. We were from the same hometown and knew we shared our faith going into college. When classes started we decided we were just going to have to try several churches in Bloomington in order to decide which one we liked best. After a few weeks Alicia and I decided that we would begin to regularly attend ECC (Evangelical Community Church) located right off of 3rd Street. We really liked that and although it was a relatively large church, it contained a sense of community with a later and more contemporary church service at 11AM, as well as having a college group (Connexion) that met on Sunday evenings. It was convenient as freshman because ECC was within walking distance and neither Alicia nor I had cars that year. Bob Whitaker is the main pastor at ECC and does a great job giving valuable information, opening the Word, and keeping your attention. Even if you have heard the story a million times, I feel like Bob provides a new spin to it and allows me to continue to learn more and more in depth information about God’s Word each Sunday. Three years later I am still attending ECC every Sunday that I am in Bloomington and love it more and more with each passing week.” –Sarah Howell
“The first time I attended Emmanuel Baptist Church I was immediately struck by the amount of joy there! I was welcomed by so many people who were truly interested in getting to know me. My fiance and I started attended regularly and we began to deeply appreciate the level of spiritual teaching and encouragement we received each Sunday. Pastor Doug was always willingly to talk with and we are excited to see how the Lord uses Emmanuel to serve the Bloomington area. I have room for 3 each Sunday if you want to come.” – Carrie Otto (812)787-1455
Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington311 S Lincoln St.Bloomington, IN 47401 Pastor Matt Nussbaum Services Times: Sundays at 10:15 a.m. (812) 269-2449
“I go to Exodus church and I really do love it. I don’t love it because of the incredible sound system and awesome light show because that is absolutely not what you will find at Exodus. What you will find is the truth preached every Sunday and an uplifting and friendly congregation. Those in leadership are personal and caring but most importantly it put God at the forefront of everything they say and do. Even though it is just in a gym, the Lord is evident every Sunday in the worship and preaching and proving that church isn’t a building but a body of believers seeking the heart of God. I carpool to church but if people would be in need of rides, I could totally drive. My number is 574-312-1467.” –Josh Mullet
“I attend Exodus Community Church and services are held in the Boys and Girls Club off of 3rd and Lincoln. It’s cool to see this simple space transforms into a place of worship as the band plays and the pastor shares the message. It is a very welcoming environment and there is always someone to greet you at the entrance. Without fail, even when I’m running late, this one man is so kind and asks me how I am doing and helps me find a seat! Even when I sit by myself, I never feel alone since there are plenty of familiar faces from Cru. In addition, Exodus does a great job creating a sense of community and each week when they ask a random question to discuss with the people sitting around you. It loosens up the room, gets your groggy mind working, and allows you to get to know new people and feel connected. The pastor is a humble man of God who does not shy away providing examples from his personal life and always ties the message back to his key phrase that God is shaping us into the kind of people who are ‘alive, awake, and free’. I am willing to give rides to Exodus!” –Megan Noonan
“What I like most about Exodus, is the pastor, Matt, because he is very genuine and unpretentious. His sermons always are engaging and get me thinking. The church is also involved in the community and engages the congregation in deciding where to allocate tithes, which is important to me as well. I visited a different church every week my first semester coming to Bloomington but I really enjoyed Exodus and am now a regular attender. This church is different from what I am used to but I really enjoy its unique qualities: it is very casual, is held in the gym at the Boys and Girls Club, and has a small contemporary worship band (I grew up singing hymns).” –Emily Nelson
“I stood outside of the the Boys and Girls Club in downtown Bloomington wondering if I had the right place. Could this really be where this so called “Exodus Church” is? As I waited there, somewhat bewildered, suddenly two friendly faces opened the doors and welcomed me in saying that the service is held upstairs in the gym. To my delight, I found a table with FREE doughnuts and coffee along with several familiar faces from Cru. Worship and the service were great, but the part I remember most about my first visit to Exodus was at the end of the service when the entire congregation prayed for a homeless man that had came to church that morning. I remember Pastor Matt Nussbaum saying that this might shake up your “weird meter,” but that he believes God not only hears our prayers but will respond. I knew then that this was the kind of church I wanted to be a part of and have attended Exodus ever since.” –Sarah Strouse email@example.com
“I found out about Foot of the Cross when the pastor, Mat Shockney, spoke at Cru one night. A friend and I decided to go that next Sunday, since we were church-hopping at the time. My first impression was that the church was small, but very friendly. I immediately felt welcomed, and after the service lots of people went out of their way to get to know us. The service itself was great. The worship varies a lot in musical style, which I like. The first week I went, Mat spoke on Leviticus, and showed how even back then, God’s laws showed his mercy and love for his people. I was amazed how an otherwise “tedious” book of the Bible could reveal so much about God’s heart for us today. Looking back now, I can see how this church has really helped me grow in my faith. What I love most about FotC is that the music, sermons, and fellowship are always centered on the redeeming power of Christ. The congregation ranges from kids to college students to middle-aged adults, and the church has a small campus ministry.” –Steven Whyte
“One of my favorite aspects of Harvest is the warm, family atmosphere that the church has. You can feel the love of Christ in real, tangible ways when you are part of the church family at Harvest. When my wife and I experienced some difficult and dark times when a close family member passed away, the church was there to provide support and care. Also, God’s Word is clearly presented and taught week after week by our pastor. Everything leads back to Jesus at our church, and it is a blessing to know that we come together as a church for His glory. During my time at Harvest Bible Chapel, my walk with the Lord has grown tremendously. I love being a member at Harvest!” –Mark Johnson
“I have been to Harvest Bible Chapel since I was a freshman, brought by Chase MacVean, one of my best friends who has already graduated from IU. During church, we sing songs, and pastor Josh will speak. It is a small church in a warehouse. It’s always funny to say it, but, I used to video chat with my friend, she is living in China, and when I told her the place I was in, was a church, she became really surprised. But I love it, I feel like I am in a small family instead of a huge, beautiful place where people come and go. I am now very good friends with lots of the people I meet in the church. I really love it.” – Thomas Yu
“I first went to Harvest Bible Chapel two years ago when they were meeting in a warehouse just south of campus. Being a church plant, the congregation was small, but the worship and message were authentic and powerful. I realized two things after my first visit to Harvest: conviction can be a positive and healthy thing and a community of loving people is crucial in a relationship with Christ.” – Paul Satchwill
“Redeemer Community Church is slightly similar to Exodus in the setup and feel of the building since it is also located in a public community center. The service was slightly longer and ran to about two hours total. The community seemed welcoming and warm and there was a long time period set aside to mingling with other members. The pastor is very energetic and has easy to follow sermons that are engaging and memorable. Overall, the experience at Redeemer Community Church was great and it’s a cool place to check out! I could give rides!” –Mallory Stearns (608) 334-6360.
“I have always felt a little lost looking for a home church here in Bloomington. I have a really great church back at home, and I can’t help but compare my experience there with other churches in Bloomington. I hate the term “church shopping”, but I honestly felt it was a struggle for me to find a church I felt comfortable attending. Finally after multiple semesters of not really finding a church I felt at home with, a friend invited me to Redeemer. She had been talking about it not stop for the past few weeks, so I figured I’d give it a try. Redeemer meets at the Banneker Community Center on Sundays at 10am. My first time there was just three weeks ago, and I absolutely fell in love. The church is relatively new, having just opened its doors in September 2012. I think it’s this newness that really makes it stand out from other churches I’ve attended. Everyone there is so passionate about Jesus, the spreading of the gospel, and the growth of the church. The complimentary coffee, tea, and doughnuts may have drawn me in, but it was the very genuine community atmosphere that made me stay. I felt very comfortable right away. What I liked even more is how Biblically-based the sermon was. It affirms that the pastor’s teachings are from God and not merely from human opinion. All it took was one visit with a friend and now I have a church I like to call home!” –Jaclyn Lahr
“I loved Sherwood Oaks Christian Church when I first went there. The sermons from Pastor Tom Ellsworth are always amazing. The 11 a.m. College Class has the best discussions that can get really deep, which I always love. I have also made some good connections through SOCC. I have been able to become a leader for the 2 year-olds’ class. They also have a program where they will connect you with a family in the church to be your family away from home. The church is very friendly and I recommend it to everyone! I can give people rides, but I go to the 8 am service, then I lead the kids’ class at 9:30 am, and after that I go to the College Class at 11 am. If you don’t want to stay that long, if you can find a ride there I can give a ride back, my phone number is 260-849-9649. Good luck church hunting! God bless!” – Jody Potts
“Throughout my first two years at IU I went to different churches in Bloomington, but I never felt like the churches I attended were for me or were my church. That all changed when I went to Sherwood Oaks. Just walking in the door I could feel the radiant love of God. After my first few Sundays there I knew that this would be my place of worship. This is the place I feel connected and loved from the first song to the last prayer. The pastor at Sherwood has a way of communicating God’s message that is attainable and real to me. The worship team is spectacular, always uniting the hundreds of brothers and sisters present in worship with our Heavenly Father. Sherwood Oaks is a wonderful place that meets you where you are with all the support and encouragement you could ever hope to find. I’m proud and very thankful to say that Sherwood Oaks is my church.” –Brittney Watson
“It’s no secret that Sherwood Oaks is a rather large church. Typically, they average out at about 2,700 people who attend every Sunday. So, I’ll admit it was a little daunting when I first went there. I had been to big churches before as a child, but I’d spent most of my time in smaller churches (~150 people), so I wasn’t used to being in a church that was about the same size as my hometown. However, I absolutely loved Tom Ellsworth’s preaching. He preaches by Scripture, and he is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. Also, the congregation loves meeting college students; they even have a program where one of the families in the church “adopts” you and just shows you tons of love and inclusion. That way, you get a little taste of home while you’re here at school. I also attend our College/Young Adult Sunday School class. It, too, is a great experience. It’s very relaxed, very conversational, and the discussions I’ve had with other people are great. Also, it’s a good way to meet people your own age and find a smaller, more manageable community. They hold all sorts of studies and trips throughout the year also. Sherwood Oaks loves college students, and I can honestly say that Sherwood Oaks grew on me quickly just with the amount of love and compassion I was shown on arrival and afterwards. It’s a church that’s challenged me and allowed me to grow in my faith here in Bloomington.” –Justin Kuhn (317) 605-5894
University Lutheran Church on the corner of 7th & Fess Pastor Richard Woelmer Services: 10:30am & 5pm on Sundays, 7pm Wednesday Vespers Find us on Facebook and feel free to contact Abbey Gerke (260)-348-9766/agerke@indiana.
“Coming to IU from a strong Lutheran background, I sought out an on-campus LCMS Lutheran church and instantly found University Lutheran, or ULu as it’s fondly known. I instantly found the traditional Lutheran community I was craving. The congregation is primarily college students, so I fit right in! Bagels & coffee and church choir helped me to get to know people.” –Abbey Gerke
It’s important to become a part of a church community, to surround yourself with people who lift you up, with people who have been where you have been, with people who have felt your pain and with people who can help pray for that pain. You can never have a shortage of people in life who are looking out for your best interest and who truly care. Church gives you that, but it has to be the right church –right for you. Please use this church glossary as a guide, as encouragement to seek out a church if you haven’t found one already. If anyone is interested in sharing your church with, let us know. There’s always more amazing churches to learn about. Share them.
- Camille Sarabia